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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4161

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (15:47): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.

Leave granted.

Senator LEYONHJELM: I table an explanatory memorandum and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Mr President,

I introduce the Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Security) Bill 2018.

This bill removes restrictions on speech in national security legislation that are unnecessary to ensure the security of Australians.

Removing these restrictions would impose greater discipline on government, allow journalists to do their job, and improve the lives of everyday Australians.

The bill removes bans on journalists reporting, and the general public discussing, the operations of security agencies unless such communications endanger anyone's health or safety. This particularly includes ASIO's special intelligence operations, as well as the AFP's delayed notification search warrants, integrity testing operations and controlled operations.

It is the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies to keep their secret operations secret. If these operations are discussed publicly, this indicates a failure of our law enforcement agencies, not criminal activity by the public.

Disclosure of secret operations by an insider should remain a criminal matter if the disclosure endangers anyone's health or safety. But in any other case it ought to be a matter for management within the workplace, as it is in the private sector. While there may be sanctions, up to and including dismissal, this does not belong in national security legislation.

Removing these restrictions on journalists and the general public will have the effect of reducing the potential for corruption or misconduct within law enforcement agencies, by increasing the prospect of public exposure.

The bill also removes the criminal offence of a person in preventative detention communicating to anyone to whom they are granted access the fact that they are being detained. Detaining someone without charge, then controlling what they say while they are in detention, borders on torture.

Finally, the bill removes criminal offences for advocating terrorism or genocide, because inciting terrorism or genocide is already a criminal offence, such that this additional offence merely serves to suppress the expression of general views. Allowing such views to be expressed allows for rebuttal, and can assist law enforcement agencies identify people with terrorist or genocidal views.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Senator LEYONHJELM: I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.